Analyze Your Sponsorship Portfolio Frequently

Maintenance and monitoring are two things that we all need in our lives. Sure, your car might be able to run a few more “hundred or so” miles over the oil change, but what does that do to your engine for the long term? Overlooking something seemingly insignificant might mean the difference between a smooth-running classic versus a rusted-out beater. Sports marketing sponsorship portfolios work the same way.

No, your portfolio doesn’t have an engine, but it does require constant attention to ensure it is running and performing properly for your brand. While the complete checkup might seem impossible, here are some quick tips we can give your brand to help start the process.

  • Is your portfolio still working for you? Understanding the overall effect of your entire portfolio is essential to moving forward and growing your brand. Understanding individual programs is important, but considering how the whole portfolio works in concert is even better. Ask, “Are my strategies and objectives still the same?” “Has my category and competition evolved?”

  • Weed out the inefficiencies and anything detrimental. There is often more audience overlap in sponsorships than you think, which creates inefficiency in your spend. Sometimes, there’s no overlap at all, but outside factors impact negotiations and value. On the athlete side, Lance Armstrong is expected to lose over $50 million in sponsorship revenue since being dropped by Nike, Oakley, Anheuser-Busch and other sponsors (not to mention the number of fans turning away from cycling as a sport). Working with experts to help develop contingency plans or a morality clause is essential in all of these negotiations, both with the athlete and the platform. Get rid of what isn’t necessary, but what may also be hurting your brand. Focus your efforts in areas that need to perform.

  • Monitor the rapidly changing marketing landscape. Thanks to new opportunities from digital, social and mobile marketing, the ways of extending consumer engagement is ever changing. How do consumers learn about your brand? How do they share information about the brand? How do they shop for your brand? These are all questions that brands need to be constantly asking themselves and continuously monitoring as the landscape will only continue to evolve.
  • Evaluate today’s strength of your partners and properties: This is especially timely as I’m writing just as the NHL has cancelled its 2013 Winter Classic game, jeopardizing the season, and the relationship it has with its sponsors and fans. If you are an NHL sponsor, did you negotiate protections against assets you paid for? Or if you’re an NBA sponsor, are your rights going to go up with increased demand? As unlikely as some scenarios may be, league lockouts, cancellations, natural disasters and player indiscretions do happen and can’t be ignored.
  • Determine if changes in your internal organization have affected impact: It’s not always about the platform; it might be about you.Many brand organizations have gone through significant changes and re-structuring, and that impacts their ability to deploy sponsorship assets and programs, e.g., Kraft’s split into two companies, Google’s acquisition of Motorola and Sara Lee’s divestiture of many brands. This can mean new internal staff responsibilities, changes in the field and new relationships with retailers/partners. Can you deliver consistent, on-brand programs across your entire organization?

Without a doubt, this is a new era of marketing challenges, including changes in consumer behavior, how athletes, teams and leagues are scrutinized and how brands themselves are changing. With so much flux, the only way to keep your portfolio running smoothly is to constantly measure and monitor your activity; keeping tabs on your results helps drive decisions and planning for the future. 

We know it’s real easy to skip the checkup and just wait until something serious happens, but monitoring and measuring now makes the recovery scenario a lot easier to handle in the long run.

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